The perfect age to start learning to fly a plane is between 13 and 15, according to Mark Bouthillier, who will be offering a free monthly aviation seminar at the Genesee County Airport.
Bouthillier started flying at the age of 14 in Rochester and is a local pilot and aircraft owner who lives in Tonawanda.
“I’m always the guy at the airport that says, ‘Hey do you want to go flying?’ ” Bouthillier said. “When I was 14 at the airport, it was common for someone to ask if I wanted to go flying. I would have said, ‘Absolutely. Let’s go.’ ”
Over the last three decades, young people are not getting involved in aviation like they did when Bouthillier started flying.
“Us kids used to go to the airport and hang on the fence and watch the airplanes all day long,” Bouthillier said. “You just don’t see that anymore. We have to take aviation to them.”
The free monthly aviation seminar will be on the first Saturday of each month, starting at 10 a.m. on April 7, at the Genesee County Airport. Bouthillier will be taking kids and their parents flying free of cost to introduce them to the life of a pilot.
Interested parties need to preregister with Bouthillier through phone, (716) 253-8445, or email at [email protected].
He will also be handing out pamphlets of the various careers in aviation.
“I’m trying to do my part because it was done for me,” Bouthillier said.
Bouthillier owns the airplane which is fully insured and has a background check done by the Experimental Aviation Association. He has a Facebook page called Offspring Aviation, located here.
The target age to start flying a plane is between 13 and 15, but someone who is 8 or 9 is too young. Bouthillier said no one is ever too old to learn to fly a plane.
“I’m treating it more like a career fair,” Bouthillier said. “They can come and check things out.”
At age 16, Bouthillier said one can solo an airplane; at age 17, one can obtain their private pilot's license; at age 18, one can get their commercial license; and at age 21, one can become an airline pilot.
“I’d be happy to take anyone flying to introduce them to what it is like in a cockpit, to fly the plane,” Bouthillier said. “I’m not trying to twist anyone’s arm, I’m just trying to show them what’s out there.”
There is always a demand for pilots, air-traffic controllers and people in other aviation careers. Bouthillier said there are always jobs there, paying well.
“The salaries in aviation are extremely good,” Bouthillier said. “These are all six-figure jobs.”